According to the latest report compiled and published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in May, there were 142 boating accidents statewide during 2011.
That is down slightly from 2010, when 154 accidents were recorded. Most (117) were classified as nonfatal, but sadly, 25 fatal accidents resulted in 28 deaths.
Furthermore, 182 vessels were involved in the 154 accidents, causing 80 people to require medical treatment.
The year ended with 348,478 boats registered throughout the state, an increase of 34,373 from 2010.
Closer to home, the number of boats registered in the four counties that touch Lake Norman was 40,851, up from 36,854 in 2010. A breakdown by county shows Mecklenburg with 15,195, Iredell 12,300, Catawba 7,842 and 5,514 in Lincoln County.
Lake Norman had 17 nonfatal boating accidents (up from 11 in 2010), ranking it second in the state (behind the Intracoastal Waterway, with 18 total accidents).
The good news is that no fatal boating accidents were listed for Lake Norman during 2010 or 2011.
Statewide, the leading type of fatal accident (15) was that in which the victim either jumped or fell overboard. The most frequent types of nonfatal accidents, accounting for 40 cases, were collisions with another vessel or with a fixed object. Operator inattention, hazardous/congested waters and careless/reckless operation were the three leading causes of nonfatal accidents.
The number of students completing boater education courses continues to climb. In 2011 a total of 41,379 students received boater education certificates, compared to 31,253 in 2010 and 17,328 in ’09. The regulation that went into effect in 2010 requiring boat operators under age 26 to have completed an approved boating safety course is the major factor in the increases of the past two years.
At the end of 2011, 9,354 personal watercraft were registered in the four counties that surround Lake Norman. Mecklenburg has the most PWCs in North Carolina, with 3,293; Iredell County was second with 3,166, followed by Catawba, 1,667, and Lincoln, 1,228. The bad news is that Lake Norman had more PWC accidents (seven of the 23 that occurred statewide) than any other body of water in the state.
While the number of accidents changes slightly from year to year, they continue to be a plague on the boating community. That being said, let this report be a reminder that “Safe Boating is No Accident.”
A free safe boating class, “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night,” will be offered 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 8 at North Point Watersports, Exit 36, Mooresville. Topics for discussion will include “Understanding Lake Norman’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “Identifying and Learning How to Avoid the 10 Most Dangerous Spots,” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” Details: 704-617-6812 or email Gus@LakeNoman.com.
For information about approved boating safety courses, visit:
• N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission –
• U.S. Power Squadron –www.usps.org
• U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary,www.uscgaux.org
• Lighthouse Marine Service,www.Lmservice.org
Hot Spots of the week
The cooldown from the recent hot weather has bass jumping into the boat. Well, not exactly, but finding them is easy when they’re chasing shad on the surface and then jumping from the water to catch them. The best places to catch schooling bass are on shallow points with a variety of topwater lures.
White perch fishing is excellent, as it has been for weeks. Big perch have finally started showing up in water from 30 to 40 feet deep. Jigging spoons, rigged in combination with a string of Sabiki flies, are the lures of choice.
The surface water temperature varies by location but is mainly in the 90s in waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 2.5 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and about 3 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.